Of Plots and Plotters

Where do you get ideas for your novels? Since I write suspense fiction, and in every book I have written the main character is a police officer, I often get ideas for novels from true crime reports, and in one or two cases, from crimes I saw while I worked in uniform. Sounds morbid, but since I believe there is hope in every situation, sometimes the more tragic the crime, the more hopeful the story becomes in my mind.

There’s a web page I check regularly that is a compilation of crime stories from all around the country. Every so often a story shows up there from overseas, but in general the stories are about the most depraved people here in our own backyard. Today a few of the articles that caught my eye were one about a police shooting in Oakland, another about a high profile trial in Ventura coming to a close, and a third was about a murder that happened during all the rioting in Great Britain. The rioting story caught my eye because it’s conducive to the “what if” game.

What if a husband wanted to get rid of his wife…

What if he saw the riots as his opportunity….

What if it looked like she was killed in the chaos, but someone saw what the husband did, and now he’s the victim of blackmail?

Oops, seen that before, let’s move on…

What if one of the looters steals something that incriminates someone in power in a horrible crime…

What if they get it home and don’t realize what they have and give it away…

What if the person they gave it to does realize what it is…

What if the original thief ends up dead?

And so on. If the idea is promising, go with it. What if questions can expand to anything and they are a lot of fun. Taking a morbid crime story and turning it into a suspenseful novel that ends on a hopeful note is what I love about writing. Brainstorming from a ‘what if’ question can plot the whole novel. Once I have an idea I believe will carry through an entire book, I start writing.

I’m curious about people who write in different genres. What gets your mind working on a story and what keeps it moving?

3 Responses to Of Plots and Plotters

  1. Jenny Milchman August 15, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    What you said about finding crime fiction not to be morbid because you “see hope in every situation” is absolutely beautiful. It’s a wonderful explanation of why crime fiction can be both important–and transformative. Thank you for this post.

  2. Janice Cantore August 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Thank you for checking it out!

  3. Cherie Fresonke August 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    My “what if” is. . . what if I can help change people’s lives by teaching them how to apply God Word to their lives! Better yet, what if that truth applied to their lives could help them become all that God created them to be! That’s what gets my creative juices flowing. And that’s what keeps me at the keyboard. Great post!

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